Breaking News: Health officials said today that they have found birds in the Chicago area to be infected by the West Nile Virus.
The birds were collected on June 8th and have tested positive today for the West Nile Virus.
According to an official statement from the Illinois Department of Public (IDPH), the birds were gathered from LaSalle and Sandwich counties.
The West Nile Virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes or eating an infected bird.
Risk factors for developing a more severe form of West Nile virus include:
- Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV, organ transplants, and recent chemotherapy
- Elderly people or young children
- West Nile virus may also be spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. It is possible for an infected mother to spread the virus to her child through breast milk.
“Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito,” the statement said. “Only about two people in 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness.”
Severe forms of disease are life threatening (called West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis) depending on what part of the body is affected. There have been several documented cases of death from West Nile.
If the following symptoms occur you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Confusion or change in ability to think clearly
Loss of consciousness or coma
Weakness of one arm or leg
West Nile Virus is not only a risk to humans; it also poses a significant threat to cats and dogs.
According to the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, there are no documented cases of transmission from cats or dogs to humans; however simply because there are no documented cases does not mean it doesn’t happen.
Human insect repellants such as “Off” are not approved for use on animals, according to The American Veterinary Medical Association.
At highest risk for getting sick from spraying insect repellants on animals are dogs. Dogs tend to ingest harmful agents by licking their fur.
The AVMA suggests speaking with a veterinarian for pet approved insect repellants.
Cats and dogs can also ingest insect repellants sprayed on human skin when they lovingly lick their owners.
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